Updated: Feb 8
For about eighteen months, all of us have witnessed the aftermath of the global pandemic. Our experiences might be different due to the social and economic class we belong to, but nobody has been left untouched by the same. I think the most concerning problems have been blatantly ignored by the administration and the people alike. And that is the worsening conditions in the rural areas of our country.
India accounts to have a major portion of the population living in the rural areas of the country and leaving them behind would have worse consequences. According to The Hindu, the share of positive patients in the rural areas of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra has been 78.4%, 74.3%, and 65.9% respectively, in the month of May. And these figures are enough to scare anyone and take immediate action.
AREAS OF CONCERN
Due to this rapid increase in the number of patients, certain issues need immediate attention and are the biggest areas of concern.
1.Poor healthcare facilities
A lot of rural areas of our country do not even have a well-equipped hospital that can be relied upon for any kind of medical assistance. This makes it so difficult for the people living in those areas to step ahead and see a doctor. This lack of facilities creates a reservation in the mind of people, as for accessing better treatment, they need to travel long distances and they cannot afford that.
It has also been observed that people living in rural areas are not taking vaccination seriously. There are a lot of apprehensions and people do not register or turn up in the dispensaries or nearby hospitals. The number of persons who received both doses of vaccine in the rural areas of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra are 4.29, 1.44 and 2,86 respectively, as mentioned in a report by The Hindu.
3.Lack of awareness
The most pressing issue in rural India is the lack of awareness. It is really a tough task to make people aware even when we know that they lack basic formal education. Educating them about the virus and how lethal it can be is a herculean task in itself. We often read news reports depicting how Aanganwadi workers and nurses have been beaten up and shooed away from the rural parts of the nation. The false beliefs that people have held on to, regarding vaccination, is an epidemic in itself. Because of this, we need something more than just film stars on posters telling them to get vaccinated.
4.Absence of ‘medical savings’
Medical savings basically mean that people often tend to secure their medical expenditure via health insurance, Mediclaim schemes and various other life insurance policies. This might not be directly related to Covid-19 but it is related to the level of awareness about these things in the rural areas. People do not save money for medical emergencies and then run short of resources later on. This is a great issue that needs to be addressed.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
We all are aware of the very basic problem of the rural societies and that is their conservative and orthodox mindset. Though it often gets reflected in various practices and customs they follow, a reflection of that during these times is very concerning. People are not understanding about the importance of social distance, and getting vaccinations on time. Covid-19 has been stigmatized in a lot of rural areas and due to the fear of expulsion or social boycott, a lot of people do not get tested, even when they show symptoms.
A very serious mistake committed on the part of the administration is, that, during the past six months or so, when there were a smaller number of Covid positive patients (comparatively to today’s alarming figures), the administration should have focused on creating optimum awareness and facilities in the rural areas. Because we are already aware of the fact that the rural areas would be the worst hit during any pandemic that occurs. We know we can’t build hospitals overnight, but creating temporary healthcare centres with the required facilities would at least help a bit during today’s difficult circumstances.
The same kind of behaviour can be observed, post-second wave had hit us until last month. People are still not taking the disease seriously despite the fact that the AIIMS chief has already alarmed the country for the outbreak of a third wave by the end of the month of July 2021. Moreover, the virus is getting stronger with each passing day, as it mutates and we tend to witness another of its variants.
Also, local administration must be directed to look after local government hospitals and dispensaries so that people get vaccinated free of cost and do not have to struggle in private hospitals. There were cases of fake vaccines being inoculated to people, which depicts the negative consequences of giving the charge to private hospitals.it is not that we cannot accomplish this, it is just the administration needs to take the charge.
A very prominent solution for dealing with the present situation can be speeding up the vaccination process, especially in rural areas. Making it compulsory for all is a very tedious task, but after observing the situations, this should also be considered, in the near future.
These are some of the solutions, which I believe, can be put into practical implementation, in order to get positive results. Because I have often observed that, we, sitting in air-conditioned rooms, getting everything done by others, do not realise what people in rural areas go through. We cannot ever realise the amount of pain they go through each day, given the lack of adequate medical facilities. So, it becomes our responsibility to make use of our privilege, in order to make their lives smoother.
B.A. Honours Political Science third-year
I am keen on writing, reading and bringing a change in myself through the education I receive.